Here are my thoughts on vacations…

For a lot of people around the world, Christmas is a time for family, taking time off from work, and over-indulging in food! This got me thinking- how much vacation time would you take if you had the option of going on holiday for as long as you like? Most people love vacations, and I agree that they do serve a purpose. My thinking is that you should take enough time off to fulfil your desire for time off- meaning you should take enough time off to feel rejuvenated and energised. A lot of folks feel like they need holidays, but if you look at the most successful people in the world, generally they don’t take that much vacation time. That’s because they don’t see their work as a chore; they see it as something they enjoy.

When I go on holiday I’m probably at my most stressed, because I’m away from doing what I love. I usually cut my vacation short by two or three days because I want to get back to work and get stuck into what is helping define my life. That being said, if you need to take time off, then you should definitely take time off. Take three months if need be, until you’re bored of it. Then you can get back into the groove of work and get focused.

Use your time off to map out how you’re going to achieve your goals. That commitment that you make to your career is going to give you so much positivity and so much energy that you’re going to love every single minute of what you do.

A couple of years ago, Richard Branson introduced unlimited vacation time for his staff. “Treat people as human beings, give them that flexibility, and I don’t think they’ll abuse it. They’ll get the job done,” Branson announced at the time.  This type of policy isn’t new, however. Many companies are embracing this kind of thinking. These policies boost morale, increase employee loyalty, and foster more creative thinking. But don’t assume that just because companies like Virgin have unlimited vacation policies in place that all their employees are taking holidays all year round.

These vacation policies focus on results. As Richard Branson put it, “It is left to the employee alone to decide if and when he or she feels like taking a few hours, a day, a week or a month off, the assumption being that they are only going to do it when they feel 100 percent comfortable that they and their team are up to date on every project and that their absence will not in any way damage the business – or, for that matter, their careers!”

Even though these employees technically have the opportunity to take months off work, many people won’t. But it is up to them whether or not they do, and this in itself is empowering.

How to prepare a holiday handover:

  1. Give advanced warning: It’s always good to let your colleagues and clients know about your leave well in advance. Check in with all your clients before you take your vacation time and put their minds at ease. Also, be sure to let them know who they can speak to in your absence.
  2. Prepare a handover document: Many people leave handover documents until the very last minute and then valuable information and action points are forgotten. Start your handover document at least a week or two before you leave and walk your colleagues through it.
  3. Tie up loose ends: Make sure that you do as much work as possible before you go on leave. It might require you working longer hours, but if you want to take leave then you’ve got to work for it! Make sure that everything is up to date and completed and have clear action points for yourself on your return.
  4. Set an ‘out of office’: What would your prospects and clients think if they sent you a mail and you didn’t reply? Ensure that you set an ‘out of office’ on your email account that includes the dates that you’ll be away, the contact names and numbers of the people who can assist your clients in your absence, and an emergency number that they can reach you on should they really need to.
  5. Hand back: Many people give handovers to colleagues before they go away but very few get a handover when they get back. It’s important to discuss exactly what happened while you were away so that you know of any urgent action points as soon as you return. Give all of your clients a call to tell them that you’re back and ask them what they need assistance with.